Best Family Canoe

Opinions on best Canoe for family.

About us:

Two adults, two young kids. To be used on small lakes and mild streams in Ohio. Potential for overnight camping trip. Durability a must as we are novices and water levels are frequently low where we paddle.

I’ve just started canoeing again but if you want canoe info try out the product review on this sight its pretty informative

17’ Aluminum
I think a 17’ aluminum canoe will work for you. That was what my family had when I was groing up. It did everything; fishing, camping, diving platform, solo. tandem, rivers, lakes, …

Noisy, cold, and hot but durable and can be stored outside. They are often passed from one generation to another.

Some day, if you are really into canoeing, you may upgrade. But IMHO the 17’ aluminum is a good starter canoe for a family.

what the others have said and If Mohawk was still around I would recomend them. 4 folks in any canoe is a bit much, I would also recomend Two canoes.

The kids are 5 years old and 2 years old. Anyone have some tips on finding a used aluminum canoe?

I’d try to discourage aluminum
simply because it is cold, hot, loud, uncomfortable, heavy, ugly, and just does not have any charisma.

Instead I’d encourage you to look at the used Mad River Explorer that jsaults has for sale in West Virginia. Good price, great family boat.

Good luck


Explorer in classifieds
Oops, my earlier post left out the classifieds info.

1 canoe now, 1 more later?
Why not one boat now, and a second boat latter? I’ve not been canoeing, but I’m in a simular situation. I have 3, a 5 yo, 3 yo, and 6 weeks. As such I’m not looking for going camping yet, but to get out in the water together. Two boats now just means you would have to carry two boats around. In and out of the water, up on the roof rack etc. When your kids get older, and can help paddle and load the boats then get a second.

I sat my two boys next to each other on a foam pad in the center of a Wenonah Spirit 2 at the boat shop. That gives two paddlers propelling the boat. Also, looks like lots of room left in the boat. If you pack lightly like a backpacker, I would think you could go out for 2 or 3 nights. Is there something I’m missing?


We enjoy our…
Wenonah Spirit II. 17’ 36" wide. Plenty of room for paddling rivers etc. Depending on how you pack though would decide how many nights you could spend camping out though.

My kids are 9 and 11

– Last Updated: Jan-05-07 2:17 PM EST –

and we use a Wenonah Itasca. Works well except for longer trips-than even 19 ft is too small/ short.
If you want to own only one canoe and take into account the kids are growing:
The Itasca, the Clipper Mc Kenzie 20, Prospector 18 from Nova Craft (very slow), the Minnesota 3 from Wenonah, Esquif Miramichi
Or a 17 ft like mentioned above for short trips without much gear and a second canoe (maybe even a solo like we do) for longer trips with more gear.
Happy paddling!

had similar quest 25 years ago
needed a canoe to take 4 kids and myself fishing and camping. We researched a lot, spending upwards of two weeks pay on anything when you have 4 kids is a big purchase. We narrowed it down to a Sawyer X-17, An Old Town Canadienne 17, a Mad River Explorer 17, and the Wenonah 17 Spirit. The dealer would not demo the Mad River, so he lost out quickly. The Sawyer dealer wanted a big deposit to demo his boat, and only on Thursday during the day; so he lost also. Come to think of it both are out of business now.

The same dealer had the Canadienne and the Spirit, and a used Sawyer, so we paddled all three back to back. The oldest boy at 10 up front, the middle boys on sling seats behind him and the baby on the ice chest in front of me. Took all of one hour to decide on the Spirit, and the rest is a quarter century of Plaid Paddler history. We still have that canoe, and plenty others have come and gone from the racks behind my house. The Spirit has company now, but it is the canoe that all others get compared to, and it is the one that goes out most often.

As the kids grew we added to our fleet, other tandems, solos, and now even a Minnesota IV at 23’ for 4 paddlers + gear. But the Spirit is the one that all of the kids take out when they go canoeing with their friends and now their kids.


Spirit II
The previous suggestion for a Spirit II might be a good choice, or perhaps an 18 ft Wen no nah Sundowner.

Tripper XL
Made by old town. It is like two canoes, but it is lighter than two canoes at only 105 pounds. It is 20 feet long so it will have room for all and 41 inches wide. It is absolutley worthless to try to paddle it solo.

I really like the two canoes idea better.

Since they are 2 and 5 you could start with one foot canoe. Go camping at lakes and do some day paddling near the campgroung. Bring toys for them to drag in the water like a boat or a fish on a string. Bring a dip net so they can collect floating leaves as they pass and a very small paddle for the 5 year old.

Don’t bring a dog in the canoe with the little ones until the dog is very very canoe trained.

Make certain that you can actually find a pfd that works on your 2 year old. I could not get suitable pfd’s for my boys until they were 4.

I really like my Penobscot
It’s great for me and the kids. The DW doesn’t go with us unless it’s a short leisure paddle. Actually lately it’s been just me and my son, I don’t think my daughter has gotten over the trip on the Etowah yet.

Haven’t done and over night trip yet but plan to next weekend on the Suwannee so then I’ll have a better idea on it’s load capacity with gear. Me and the Bro-In-Law plan on taking the kids and having a real plush campsite. Want to gradually draw them in on roughing it, we usually RV camp.

Mine is a 16’ but they do have a 17’


Easy Frank
This guy may not be the old lumberjack that you are. 105# is light for you, but its way too heavy for most mortals to get up a bank and on to a vehicle. This poor guy has two small kids and we don’t know if his wife is a true Amazon or Mountain Woman.

The Tripper XL is a big haul-it-all barge. I can’t see that it fits his needs, and we don’t want the guy scared of canoeing if we give him the idea he needs to be man enough to haul a “light” 105# canoe. I did not suggest either the Minnesota III or IV and they are much lighter than the Tripper and Tripper XL. Too much boat for his needs right now.

Are you enjoying the mild spring weather down there? Its almost 60 up here on Lake Ontario.

I had my wife do it
I always made her carry the canoe. At 105 punds it is much easier than having her carry both tandem canoes at once. They are over 60 pounds each and it is really hard to carry two at a time.

Thanks for all the feedback

– Last Updated: Jan-05-07 10:48 PM EST –

I really like the two canoe idea and the Spirit II seems like a really nice boat. I have a Perception Acadia that I use for paddling, but since the kids are getting older I thought about transitioning to a canoe so we could make it more of a family thing (my dad used to take us occasionally when I was a kid).

Thanks for the tips about not taking the dog until he is trained and the heads up on the PFD for our little girl.

My boss has …
quite a few Old Town Disco 176’s up for sale from his livery here in Ohio. IMHO a very nice family boat. Good prices on a boat you won’t outlive! email me or google Raccoon Run canoe Livery for contact numbers.